Monday, February 20, 2006

Patting myself in the back: Blair, Chavez and me

Blogging is a strange phenomenon. Its consequences on the media as a whole are far from being established but already some of its effects can be seen. Now bloggers can be seen reporting from the floor of US Gop or Dem conventions, to Venezuelan bloggers asked on the radio in the US or England.

In Venezuela the phenomenon is a little bit slower but it is also coming. If some people like Milagros Socorro have sensed it early enough and have helped El Nacional to be the first major paper to acknowledge blogging as a social phenomenon and to report on it on occasion, it is still a marginal activity as far as media interest in blogs. It should remain so as blogging will never replace the investigative capacities of newspapers, but eventually blogging will occupy a solid niche in the information flow of serious news and analysis (Noticiero Digital was on Alo Ciudadano a week ago!).

Last Thursday, Veneconomia was another major main stream media that took a risk with blogging. This internet publication, widely read by financial circles and government in Venezuela (if anything to check the street value of the American Dollar) writes some of the most biting and clear headed editorials around here, in Spanish first and translated within a few hours in English. I have or used often through the years. This time it was them using my blog for their editorial! But fair is fair I suppose. Below the editorial of Veneconomia/VenEconomy of last Thursday:

British Prime Minister Tony Blair does nothing without a reason. That is why when he instructed President Chávez last week to respect and abide by international standards, it wasn’t by chance or unintentional.

In his blog, the well-known analyst Daniel Duquenal took an in-depth look at the reasons that could be behind Prime Minister Blair’s pondered but direct statements.

Duquenal starts from the premise that Tony Blair did not speak before the British Parliament as an Englishman but as a European and, therefore, his words were clearly intended as a warning on behalf of the European Community to the autocratic government commanded by Hugo Chávez, in particular with regard to its ties with outlaw regimes.

Duquenal comments that the reports by the observers from the European Union and the European Parliament on the Venezuelan parliamentary elections of December 4 have given rise to alarm. These reports have made many Europeans aware of the outrages and violations committed against citizens’ rights by the Hugo Chávez administration, in particular the segregationist Tascón/Maisanta List.

Duquenal also maintains that there is concern in the old continent over Venezuela’s alliances with Iran, a country that poses a serious threat to peace in Europe and the rest of the world.

Duquenal thinks that the French and the Spaniards are annoyed and concerned at the turn things are taking in Venezuela. The former are worried over the problems that companies are having with the Chávez administration, among them Total Oil. The latter are fearful for their fellow Spaniards living in Venezuela, many of whom have been victims of invasions of their property by persons who support the Bolivarian process, and the illegal confiscations of private property and companies by the government. Then there was the U.S. veto of the sale of aircraft using U.S. technology that also alerted them to the fact that the intentions behind Venezuela’s rearmament plans are far from saintly.

That being the case, then the position adopted by Blair before Parliament is hardly surprising.

That is why Hugo Chávez’ discordant response in telling Blair to “go to hell” and calling him “swine” and “pawn of imperialism” was totally out of place and the subsequent appointment of Jenny Figueredo as Venezuela’s representative in Europe, after having been expelled from the United States by the Bush administration, could be taken as a slap in the face. The President is putting the country dangerously outside the concert of civilized countries.

This editorial was inspired from a post I made 10 days ago. I am extremely flattered of course. [End of self congratulatory mood, apologies to those offended by it :) ]

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